THEATER REVIEW: “Guys and Dolls” @ the Theater Barn [Berkshire on Stage]
Review by Barbara Waldinger
The world situation being what it is, how welcome is the prospect of seeing Guys and Dolls, the delightful and carefree Frank Loesser 1950 musical! Based on several stories by Damon Runyon, the show won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and went on to numerous revivals on Broadway and in London, productions world-wide, and became a popular film in 1955.
The book, by Jo Swerling and then Abe Burrows – who was denied the Pulitzer Prize in 1951 because of his difficulties with the House Un-American Activities Committee (maybe everything wasn’t so carefree after all) – concerns the misadventures of New York City gambler Nathan Detroit and his quest for the cash to secure a venue for a craps game. Desperate, he bets Sky Masterson, a high-stakes gambler who would bet on anything, that Sky will be unable to convince Salvation Army missionary Sarah Brown to accompany him on a dinner date to Havana.
Meanwhile, Detroit has to fend off poor Adelaide, a nightclub entertainer at the Hot Box, who, after 14 years of engagement is adamant about marrying him, since she has written to her mother about their longstanding marriage and five children. The comic escapades of these unlikely couples, the intertwining of the Salvation Army and the gamblers, add up to an entertaining story line, accompanied by Loesser’s entrancing music and lyrics.
Alas, this big, sprawling extravaganza proves too much for the company gathered by the Theater Barn in New Lebanon. Neither the performers, despite their best efforts, nor the skimpy set and insufficient band, are equal to the task.